ATLANTA (AP) — Olympic champion Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone won her first 400-meter hurdles race in nearly two years on Friday, finishing in 52.70 seconds to post the best time of 2024.

The 24-year-old world-record holder came to the Edwin Moses Legends Meet hoping simply to run a time of 54.85 seconds or better, the “qualifying standard” needed to be eligible for the Paris Games this summer.

McLaughlin-Levrone, who missed the 2023 world championships with a knee injury, has been racing mostly in non-hurdles races this year, leaving open the question of which events she’ll participate in at the Olympics.

After her race at Morehouse College in Atlanta, she said she was pleased with her time, which was more than two seconds slower than her world record of 50.68.

“It’s a progression,” she said. “Shaking the rust off after two years. I’ll take a 52.7. Things to work on. We haven’t had much hurdles practice, so there’s a lot to improve.”

McLaughlin-Levrone’s last 400 hurdles race was Aug. 8, 2022 in Hungary.

Before shutting things down due to injury last year, she won the U.S. championship in the 400 flat in 48.74 — a time that led the world in 2023 and made her the 10th fastest woman of all time at that distance. This year, she has been running exclusively in the United States, preparing for Olympic trials in June.

“I love racing and I love Europe, but in a year like this, coming off an injury last year, we just wanted to be safe,” she said. “Just playing it safe ’til we can get to the trials.”

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AP Summer Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games